Outstanding caregivers will be honoured

Entries are invited for the yearly Early Childhood Development (ECD) Awards.

Entries are invited for the yearly Early Childhood Development (ECD) Awards.

The awards, which are organised and sponsored by Sowetan, Absa, SABC, South African Congress for ECD (SACECD) and the Office on the Rights of the Child, seek to recognise, acknowledge and reward remarkable individuals and organisations who are making a marked difference in the development of children - mentally, physically, spiritually, morally and socially.

First-to-third-placed winners will be awarded in four categories, namely practitioner of the year, home-based centre of the year, community-based centre of the year and resource and training organisation of the year.

Through the awards, the organisers and sponsors seek to create a culture in South Africa of a holistic approach to a child's development. This takes into account the importance of a child's health, nutrition and education, while also looking at the psychological and environmental factors, all within the context of the family and the community.

"The value of ECD practitioners and ECD as a sector is enhanced by providing this platform that will ultimately become a support system for people and centres working as early childhood developers," Riah Phiyega, the Absa group executive for public affairs, said this week. Leonard Saul, the chief executive officer of SACECD, said: "These awards will assist the government in meeting its objectives, on every level, and coincide with its recently-released Integrated Plan for Services for children from birth to four years. This confirms its commitment to have services to children integrated, as well as to develop excellent centres where children can receive care and education."

Sowetan Special and Social Projects Editor Victor Mecoamere, said: "Early childhood development forms the backbone of any society. South Africa desperately needs a healthy ECD sector because by not providing for children socially, spiritually, culturally and even artistically is truly unforgivable."

l To nominate or enter the awards,e-mail:ecdawards@makwetla.co.za or call 011 447 5199 to request an entry form. Closing date for entries is November 30.